By Victor Kanayo
Liverpool on Sunday defeated Arsenal 2-0 to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners being the hosts were again left to rue their profligacy as they fell short in a clash of two Premier League title rivals, squandering a series of chances across the 90 minutes.
Reds Upper Hand Over Arsenal
For the sixth time in seven seasons, Liverpool faced Premier League opposition at the earliest opportunity in the FA Cup.
Liverpool were missing two of their best players in the meeting of the Premier League title challengers in this FA Cup tie – but they impressively overcame the absence of the ill Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, who is at the Africa Cup of Nations.
They were grateful for Arsenal’s poor finishing in the first half but Klopp’s side were always in the game and, even without Salah, they possess menace in their forward line and that was increasingly in evidence as the game went on.
Ibrahima Konate in particular stood out – proving he can produce commanding performances even without Van Dijk alongside him – while young defender Jarell Quansah continues to impress in the absence of Joel Matip.
Nunez was again inefficient with his efforts at goal but Jota was lively as he continues his return from injury.
Overall, finding a way to win without Van Dijk and Salah will send a surge of self-belief through Liverpool and their supporters that Klopp’s new-look side can go on to achieve special things this season.
Liverpool currently lead the Premier League, play an EFL Cup semi-final against Fulham on Wednesday, are into the knockout stage of the Europa League and can now look forward to the FA Cup fourth-round draw with optimism.
Manchester City Also Push On
Meanwhile, Manchester City pummeled Huddersfield Town 5-0 to also power into the FA Cup fourth round at Etihad stadium.
Their triumph occured on a day star player Kevin de Bruyne made his return to competitive football for the first time since August.
De Bruyne, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, came on in the second half as two goals from Phil Foden as well as strikes by Julian Alvarez, Jeremy Doku and a Ben Jackson own goal sent Pep Guardiola’s side into the fourth round.
Manchester City won the trophy last year as part of an epic Treble-winning season and few gave Huddersfield – 21st in the Championship – much chance of causing an upset.
In the other matches on the day, Bristol City held West Ham, same way Blackpool caged Nottingham Forest to stir a replay before those qualified for fourth round play will be determined.
Chelsea had on Saturday thrashed Preston 5-0 to secure a comfortable passage in the competition.